The Purge established a dystopian future in which crime was legal for one night a year. The film’s terrifying premise made us wonder how the Purge came to be. This summer, we get the answer when The First Purge opens on July 4.

The new film follows the New Founding Fathers of America as they conduct an experiment in lawlessness. Supposedly it’s all about lowering crime, but in reality, there’s a more nefarious purpose. We get to see how a community deals with the rash of violence this “experiment” creates. 

Prequels to popular films generate a lot of interest, but can be controversial. As the frenzy of The First Purge approaches, let’s look at five other horror origin films that gave us something to be afraid of – in the best way.

Annabelle: Creation (2017)

[Credit: Warner Bros.]

Annabelle: Creation is a prequel to Annabelle, which is itself a prequel to The Conjuring. As its title implies, the film explores the origin of the Annabelle doll. The story focuses on six orphan girls and their guardian, Sister Charlotte, who move into the home of Samuel and Esther Mullins. While in the house, Janice, one of the orphans, discovers Annabelle, a doll possessed by a demon accidentally summoned by the Mullins. Once freed, the entity takes over Janice and uses her to fulfill its sinister plans.

Annabelle: Creation is a great example of how a prequel can connect to its predecessor without relying on what came before. Director David F. Sandberg takes full advantage of the mythology established in Annabelle and The Conjuring to craft an intriguing origin for the villainous doll. Annabelle: Creation builds on Annabelle’s previous appearances to craft a vicious and truly terrifying presence.

The latest addition to The Conjuring Universe, The Nun, hits theaters on September 7, 2018. 

Ouija: Origin Of Evil (2016)

[Credit: Universal Pictures]

To create an origin story for 2014’s Ouija, this supernatural horror tale travels back to the ’60s. It explains how Doris Zander, the evil spirit from the first film, and her vicious sister Lina came to be. Origin of Evil was in a unique situation prior to its release. Ouija hadn’t been well-received, and audiences weren’t expecting its follow-up to fare much better. Nevertheless, the film defied expectations with a gripping storyline and a compelling cast of characters.

Director Mike Flanagan delves into the childhood of Doris and Lina, exploring their relationship with their mother and their shared efforts to build a better life. The movie humanizes the sister duo, making an affecting journey out of their slow transformation into the vicious beings introduced in Ouija. This prequel’s exploration of Doris and Lina’s backstory also adds a new layer of emotional complexity to the 2014 film.

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

[Credit: Focus Features]

Insidious introduced audiences to Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), a kind paranormal investigator determined to help people in need. Elise passed away in Insidious: Chapter 2, but she returned to the franchise in prequel Insidious: Chapter 3. Set seven years before Insidious, this one focuses entirely on Elise. She’s mourning the untimely death of her husband, but goes back to work in order to help a family haunted by a demon.

The film answers several mysteries established by its two predecessors (such as Elise’s connection to the Bride in Black), but it doesn’t rely on them to deliver an interesting story. Instead, Insidious: Chapter 3 places its focus on exploring Elise, and showing what makes her such a compelling protagonist. The story takes audiences on a fascinating character journey as she overcomes her demons and becomes the evil-hunting hero introduced in Insidious.

The Thing (2011)

[Credit: Universal Pictures]

The Thing explores the events leading up to John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi classic of the same name. The prequel follows a team of scientists led by paleontologist Kate Loyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) which travels to a Norwegian research station in Antarctica to investigate a recently-discovered alien ship. Inside the spacecraft, they encounter a violent alien creature able to assimilate humans and assume their forms. Chaos ensues as the scientists struggle to understand who can be trusted while trying to survive the creature’s attack.

The Thing is a shining example of the potential behind origin stories. The film treads the line between paying homage to what came before and carving its own path by establishing interesting connections to its predecessor. As it does that, it still delivers a new story led by a unique cast of characters. The Thing stands on its own as a terrifying horror/sci-fi adventure while also serving as a worthy set-up for John Carpenter’s classic.

Prometheus (2012)

[Credit: 20th Century Fox]

Prometheus takes audiences to the beginnings of the Alien franchise. The movie follows a team of explorers as they voyage to a distant planet to communicate with the Engineers, a race of god-like beings responsible for humanity’s creation. Throughout their journey, the explorers encounter numerous horrors that turn their lives upside down and make them question how relevant humans truly are in the universe.

Prometheus uses the DNA of the familiar franchise as the foundation for a new type of story. This is, in many ways, a starting point for the Alien universe. It plants the seeds for the xenomorphs and expands on the mythology established by previous films. That said, Prometheus also works as an innovative sci-fi story that deals with complex themes and lays the groundwork to explore a different side of the Alien saga.

The First Purge opens on July 4, 2018.